Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Vibrant Latino culture, family drama, explode in 'La Mission'
It may be Benjamin Bratt's name above the title, but the Latino community in San Francisco's Mission District is the real star of La Mission. As viewed through the camera eye of writer-director Peter Bratt (the star's older brother), the Mission is an E-Ticket ride of cultural vitality: vibrant, colorful murals sprawl across every wall, Aztec dance troupes and Mariachi bands are out performing on the street at all hours, and a sleek parade of extravagantly restored, airbrushed and detailed lowrider cars prowls the neighborhood seemingly every night, winding up with a fiesta of music and dancing. Every interior is painted in vivid, sun-drenched colors and decorated with altars and family photos.
Watch out for The Eclipse, an unusual and affecting hybrid of a movie from Irish filmmaker Conor McPherson. A finely limned character drama about a lonely widower and father slowly coming to terms with life, death, and grief, the tone is part magic realism, and part lyrical Irish folk ballad. It's certainly not what you'd call a thriller in any conventional sense. And yet it contains two or three of the most frightening, jump-out-of-your-skin shock moments you'll see in the movies all year. The story is set in the rugged, starkly beautiful coastal hamlet of Cobh, in County Cork, during an annual literary festival. The wonderful Ciaran Hinds play Michael Farr, a local woodshop teacher who has dabbled in story-writing and volunteers at the festival every year as a driver, ferrying visiting literati to and from events.
Consumerism runs amok in savvy satire 'The Joneses'
You know "the Joneses" that we're all supposed to be keeping up with? They actually exist in the eponymously named The Joneses, a sly and sharp black comedy from filmmaker Derrick Borte about consumerism and its consequences. Liberated from the prison of metaphor, they stride onto the screen intact, the coolest new family on the block with all the coolest new stuff that all their neighbors instantly covet. In an already affluent neighborhood, they raise the curve for essential possessions and throw down the gauntlet: let the games begin!
Sappy filmmaking bobbles great story in 'Perfect Game'
A wonderful true story lurks inside the family-friendly baseball movie, The Perfect Game. In 1957, a motley group of street kids from a working-class industrial area of Monterrey, Mexico, not only shaped themselves into a baseball team with the heart and chutzpah to earn official Little League franchise status, they also became the first foreign team to advance all the way to the top in the Little League World Series across the border.
Boy saves medieval masterpiece in lovely, animated ‘Secret of Kells'
A boy on a heroic quest is not an unusual subject for an animated family film. But there's an extra layer of intrigue when the quest involves creating and preserving one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork in human history. When Irish animator Tomm Moore set out to make his first feature, he decided to delve into his own Celtic heritage for inspiration; the result is the lovely and poetic The Secret Of Kells, which imagines the story of a boy in a medieval monastery who helps to save the gorgeous 9th Century illuminated manuscript known to history as "The Book of Kells."
Lust, longing, betrayal, revenge, madness. These are the elements of grand opera, used to swoony effect by veteran Italian filmmaker Marco Bellochio in his arresting Vincere (Victory). His subject is the woman and child Benito Mussolini left behind while reinventing himself as Il Duce. Political content is acute throughout; the director draws parallels between Mussolini's opportunistic path from young Socialist troublemaker to Fascist dictator and the ruthlessness with which he abandons the woman who loves him. But the film plays out as a rapturous fever dream of love and loss told entirely from the viewpoint of Ida Dasler (played with simmering grace and erotic intensity by Giovanna Mezzogiorno).